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Peter Goldsbury
05-01-2009, 07:20 AM
Hello Everybody,

A few weeks ago I taught at the annual Spring Training Seminar of the Yuwakai in the Netherlands. The Dutch instructor is Erik Louw, an Aikikai 6th dan holder, who is also Mokuroku in Katori Shinto-ryu.

The seminar was very interesting because Erik has a blind student in his Amsterdam dojo, named Peter. (I am sure that I should use a PC term like 'visually challenged', but the student in question needs a 'seeing' dog and has no issues with being 'blind'.) Erik has taught him from the time he was a beginner, but I am different--a visiting instructor who goes only twice each year.

So, for every technique I demonstrated, in addition to my regular uke, I also used Peter as uke, to give him the 'feel' of the waza. If I forgot, Erik would always call out and remind me to use Peter as uke.

Because Peter could tell where I was only from the sound of my voice, I could not simply call out his name. I had to go and get him from the line-up, put his hands into mine for a katate-dori attack, or tell him exactly where to strike for a shomen-uchi attack. I was actually quite astonished at his ability to 'feel' aikido. He took ukemi, even mae ukemi, with little problem and always knew where to 'find' me for the next waza.

I am getting older and recently had an operation to remove a cataract from my left eye. My eyes are now very good, so it was somewhat chastening to be able to train with my namesake, who is much younger than I am, but needs a seeing dog for his daily activities. In the dojo, however, he is always carefully looked after by the other students. After the initial demonstration, one or two students grab hold of him and take him through the waza.

I have known Erik Louw for many years and his dojo is unique in many respects, combining serious aikido training with equally serious training in Katori Shinto Ryu (I suppose the pivot here is the Sugino dojo in Kawasaki, but Erik's mokuroku was given by Otake Sensei). However, the serious aikido training also includes students like Peter.

So I am curious. Are there any other dojos in the Aikweb universe that cater for blind students?

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Janet Rosen
05-01-2009, 10:45 AM
I have trained over the years with two blind people, both of whom were at one time or another active on aikido-L and attended aikido-L seminars. Don't recall their home dojos.
The first time I trained with a legally blind person it was a real reminder to maintain contact with my partner, because I nearly got clocked by an unwitting atemi :-)

Ron Tisdale
05-01-2009, 11:05 AM
A blind student used to come to some of Utada Sensei's seminars in Philadelphia. I believe he was with a New York Yoshinkan dojo. I never had the opportunity to train with him myself however. I suspect that is another fine opportunity lost.

Next time he comes, hopefully I will get the chance to rectify that.

Thanks for posting Peter!
Best,
Ron

Lyle Laizure
05-02-2009, 03:15 PM
There was one regular blind student at my sensei's dojo for a long time. There was another from another dojo that would visit from time to time. Both excellent practitioners.

Joseph Madden
05-03-2009, 08:00 PM
In November 2008, I had the opportunity to provide uke for a blind student, who is also a lawyer, for his shodan test. Needless to say he passed. His nickname is Daredevil and with good reason. He's completely fearless.

Abasan
05-04-2009, 12:11 AM
How cool is that. You guys should have that embroidered in his belt. Daredevil!

Lan Powers
05-04-2009, 10:49 AM
Sarah P. who used to post here, is legally (and functionally) blind.
She trains at a school in Arkansas.
I always wanted to be part of the training for someone who HAS to "do it" by feel alone.
Interesting
Lan

Guilty Spark
05-04-2009, 12:36 PM
How doesthat work when someone is blind? Like, if I am training with them to I refrain from striking them?
Do they only train from points of actual contact like the grabbing of wrists and such?

Russ Q
05-04-2009, 03:55 PM
There is an instructor in my area that is has become blind over a period of time. Although I have my own dojo now (this instructor and myself are peers), when I was training with him he was always quite inspirational. A great of example of simply showing up in the dojo everyday and "doing it".

cheers,

Russ

NagaBaba
05-04-2009, 04:20 PM
However, the serious aikido training also includes students like Peter.

So I am curious. Are there any other dojos in the Aikweb universe that cater for blind students?

Best wishes to all,

PAG

Hello Peter,
I have some doubts about the capacity of blind student to really learn Aikido. I'm not talking here about aikido-like mouvements, but Aikido. The reason is - Aikido happens before contact.

Joseph Madden
05-04-2009, 06:35 PM
Hello Peter,
I have some doubts about the capacity of blind student to really learn Aikido. I'm not talking here about aikido-like mouvements, but Aikido. The reason is - Aikido happens before contact.

Actually most "blind" people aren't completely blind. They have limited shadow vision that allows them to see shapes. I'll admit there were a couple of times that I nearly connected with Daredevil, but he managed to avoid the hits. And those that he didn't, he took it.:cool:

Peter Goldsbury
05-04-2009, 08:53 PM
Hello Szczepan,

Oh yes. I do not think that Erik's student will ever be able to train like a sighted practitioner. However, I think an important issue here is to what extent aikido training can improve or enhance the 'life possibilities', if you like, of those who are visually or physically impaired to a significant degree.

Best wishes,

PAG

Hello Peter,
I have some doubts about the capacity of blind student to really learn Aikido. I'm not talking here about aikido-like mouvements, but Aikido. The reason is - Aikido happens before contact.

Mary Eastland
05-05-2009, 12:53 PM
sight is not the only way to perceive an attack. marty just tested for 5th kyu in our dojo. he trains with one of our senior students who is herself legally blind.
i noticed a marked difference in his mat awareness and confidence since his last test.
i find being with him in the moment i know intuitively how to relate to him.
on another note we have always practiced techniques with eyes closed....it has helped me realize how i can see without my eyes.
sorry about my no caps...today is my first typing with my right wrist broken.
cheers,
mary

Ron Tisdale
05-05-2009, 01:33 PM
OW. Best wishes for a speedy recovery Mary.

Best,
Ron

Phil Van Treese
05-05-2009, 03:24 PM
I've taught people with disabilities before but never a blind person. You people must have a great sense of satisfaction. Congrats to all of you.